Why You Should Share Your Culture and Engagement Survey Results


You know the story: It’s been a rough couple of years. You’ve gone through a merger. Or part of your businesses was spun off to another company. Employees felt a great amount of uncertainty. It was hard to retain some of your top talent; employee engagement suffered.

sample surveyYou wisely decided to get a pulse of the current culture and climate by fielding an employee engagement survey. The results went down from prior years, and seemed to have dropped – especially in areas such as trust, happiness and overall engagement. Indeed the culture scores went down for every workgroup and region.

You, other managers, and the HR team as a whole all think that there’s no way you should share these results with employees. You believe that if you share, workplace spirit and camaraderie will suffer even further.



Share them … and let people know that you’re working on the gaps that were pointed out in the survey. Why would you do that? Isn’t it risky?

Quite the opposite. It’s necessary to share results in order to improve employee engagement.


  • road signsYou fielded the survey; the workforce and line managers already know the mood in your organization.
  • By sharing results, you’re implicitly thanking people for taking the survey. (You can thank them in the note that shares the results.) You’re asking them to trust you … to trust that you intend to improve scores by sharing results … to trust that you want to improve workplace culture.
  • You’re telling employees that you hear them. There will be strengthsShare 3 or 4 of those strengths, as well as 3 or 4 “areas of opportunity” where there are gaps.
  • Ask for feedback. A survey is “uni” directional. Make the process more 360, more multi-directional. Get people involved. Get them to help you improve employee engagement and workplace or workgroup climate and culture.
  • Put a plan in place for Action Planning. Some of the plan will involve your senior leaders and HR policies and practices. Some of this planning, however, should include Action Planning at the level of each individual line manager, boss or supervisor.

An employee engagement survey is a promise. Don’t break the promise with silence and inaction.

Measurement is step 1. Action is step 2.

Culture and Climate Best Practices

Effective best practices, tailored so that they can be implemented by managers, lead to improved workplace climates. Great workplace cultures, in turn, positively affect nearly every important business metric, including.

  • Engagement
  • Productivity
  • Retention
  • Collaboration
  • Happiness

When you put the terms “best practices” and “HR” into a Google search, you’ll come up with dozens of suggested pages and links – many to well-known human capital management vendors (Oracle, ADP, Glassdoor, Monster) prescribing solutions that HR departments can use to manage their workforces.

culture and climate best practicesPut in the terms “best practices” and “leadership” and you come back with links to suggestions on how leaders can – and should – guide their organizations. One source, Business Management Daily, speaks to leaders’ initiatives when it comes to communication, innovation, coordination, motivation and delegation.

Fair enough. But the recommendations in both cases suggest actions that result in desired employee behavior. They’re not about culture and climate.


Indeed, there is a direct link between three key areas: 1) a best practice, 2) the culture and climate within a workgroup, and 3) the person who is closest to each employee within that workgroup – his or her direct supervisor.

Indeed, when you type in the terms “best practices” and “management” search-engine results become more interesting. Take one of many examples, a 2013 Forbes article on the matter: 7 Management Practices That Can Improve Employee Productivity. The emphasis on the piece is on productivity, and while the article’s 7 best practices touch on culture – areas such as feedback, incentives, respect and training – the goal is to boost productivity.

No doubt. Productivity is a critical metric. But so are several others: engagement, employee retention, the ease (or difficulty) of recruitment, and promoting an environment that lowers any incentive for employees to steal from the organization. All of these metrics, at the end of the day, impact productivity.


Workplace culture and climate is more encompassing. They affect the dual pillars of trust and happiness. Specific culture best practices – practices that focus on actionable activities which managers can use to improve climate – should be tailored to each specific component of trust and happiness. This improves climate – and all aspects of business success, not just productivity.

Michael Burchell, the co-author of No Excuses and The Great Workplace, defines best practices as a set of specific suggestions, often tailored to a manager or organization, which provides “useful and innovative new approaches to questions and challenges. They’re not meant to be implemented without an understanding of the current context,” he says. “For managers, they can be powerful tools when designing new programs.”

Effective best practices, tailored to managers, lead to improved workplace climates. And that, in turn, positively affects every important business metric.

And best practices have another important side benefit: they help boost employee happiness.

Can Salary Improve Corporate Culture?

There’s a conundrum in the corporate world. The belief is that higher salaries lead to greater engagement. That’s not true. What is true is that how you deal with information about salaries in your organization can have a positive affect on worker engagement, happiness and culture.


The issue of salary always comes up during the many workshops I’ve conducted with dozens of managers to understand the results of culture surveys. Companies are invariably taken to task because they don’t pay their employees enough, at least in the minds of workers.

Businesses will ask: Would higher salaries have a positive impact on survey results? And what if there is no room in the budget to raise compensation? Do salary levels really affect employee engagement and happiness?

Our research says “no”. That’s because:

  1. People are seldom satisfied with their salary. Even in great workplaces, at least 30% of people surveyed say they don´t receive a fair salary for the work they do.
  2. When a company awards a salary increase, the satisfaction concerning the increase . On average positive feelings about the increase seldom lasts lasts 3 mont
  3. man with moneyEngagement has far more to do with the positive attributes of culture and climate, than salary levels. Salary as a factor in workplace culture assessment is almost always affected by employees’ perceptions of other climate attributes. You can´t evaluate salary alone, in a bubble. If I have a terrible boss, or if I have so much to do that I´m stressed all the time, no amount of compensation will make me feel good.


So, instead of thinking that higher salaries will improve culture, let´s pay attention to those things that can impact employees’ views of their workplace. It starts with the relationship with their direct supervisor. How strong and positive is the relationship between the employee and the manager? How can you improve it? Do I, as a manager, provide enough opportunities to learn and grow within the company? Do I recognize employees when they do a good job?

You may have worked hard in terms of the employee-manager relationship, but your company still scores poorly when it comes to salary. There´s another thing you can work on: Communication. Too few companies are transparent when it comes to communicating how they pay employees, what scales they use, and what other factors count when in comes to setting salary levels.

I remember working with a large telecommunications firm that always received great scores in their employee culture and climate survey, but always seemed to fall down in terms of employees’ views of salary at the company. What was ironic in this case was that salary levels at the company were in the 75th percentile compared with similar companies.

couple on pile of moneyWhat was the problem? Focus groups demonstrated that employees received their salary with no information or context. What they did – and this is now a Human Footprint Best Practice – is they created a Compensation Workshop to explain to groups of 50 employees, all the factors that went into salary decisions, including scale and other relevant criteria.

The company had more than 4,500 employees so it was a big undertaking. But after a year, in the next climate survey, the company’s scores relating to salary shot up 7 points – all without raising compensation one penny.


So the next time you think that salary will boost employee engagement, take a look around at the other key pillars of workplace culture and climate. It’s not the salary level itself, it’s the relationship with managers, and how you, as an organization, communicate about salaries.